Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Around Shoreham - land and sea (22-28 September)

Tuesday 28 September. I took Cookie up to a very windswept Mill Hill where in an hour we saw Buzzard, 7 Swallows, 5 Chiffchaffs and 2 Blackcaps. Megan was working at Southwick Library but it wasn't nice cycling weather and she was a bit short of petrol so I took her over with the idea of coming home via the Adur and a low tide look through the gulls. With news of 5 Balearic Shearwaters past Beachy by 09:00 I decided Widewater might be a better option and with Cookie in tow started seawatching just before 10. Light was difficult but birds were moving and after 45 minutes I picked up a distant group of 3 Balearic Shearwaters arcing above the waves as they headed west. Five more did the same at 11:14, 3 at 11:39, 2 at 11:49 and 1 at 11:50. My 14 Balearic Shearwaters pale in comparison with the 150 seen off Beachy that morning but for me they more than quadrupled my previous highest Sussex counts. All were only picked out when above the horizon although the groups could be followed for a couple of minutes as they were visible almost as often as not. Also heading west were 35 Black-headed, 6 Mediterranean (an adult, 2 second-winters and 3 first-winters) and 26 Common Gulls, 22 Sandwich Terns and 70 Gannets. We called in at the Adur on the way home. Of most interest were 2 Mediterranean Gulls (adult and first-winter), 85 Great Black-backed Gulls (including 50H), 10 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (including V7EE), 14 Ringed and a Grey Plover. The day, my last in Sussex for a while, turned out a lot better than I was expecting.

difficult viewing conditions at Widewater

first-winter Mediterranean Gull on the Adur
adult Mediterranean Gull on the Adur

Great Black-backed Gull 50H on the Adur
a female hatched at Le Havre in 2010 and seen in Calvados in winter 2012 and 2013, Devon in September 2014 and in the Shoreham area (mostly the Adur) in December 2015, July & October 2017,  February & October 2020 and April 2021
Lesser Black-backed Gull V7EE on the Adur
probably from Denmark
its wings go on and on

Monday 27 September. With a forecast of strong westerly winds and heavy ran showers Megan and I took Cookie to Brooklands. Me hoping there might be some gulls sheltering on the lagoon. There weren't but then the weather was nowhere near as bad as the forecast suggested with blue skies and a few scattered clouds. We saw the Mute Swan family (adults with 6 full-sized cygnets), 2 Teal, a Grey Heron, single Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Jay and 3 Chiffchaffs.

Sunday 26 September. Megan was Covid stewarding in Portslade so after I dropped her off and Cookie and I spent much of the morning on the Downs. We walked from Foredown Tower to Devils Dyke and west along the South Downs Way. We had only just turned south on a permissive footpath to Perchinghill Barn when distant shooting started from further down the valley and Cookie was off. Back on the South Downs Way she was insistent on continuing west and I was thinking we might have to walk home by way of Truleigh, Beeding and Mill Hills and collect the car later. Half way up Edburton Hill she had a change of heart and I persuaded her to return via Fulking Hill. I saw Buzzard, Kestrel, 8 Skylarks, 70 Swallows, 8 House Martins, 3 Chiffchaffs, Mistle Thrush, 2 Wheatears, 7+ Yellow Wagtails and 140 Meadow Pipits. In the afternoon Megan and I walked down to the allotment with Cookie seeing Sparrowhawk and Painted Lady.

Yellow Wagtails on Benfield Hill

Wheatear by the South Downs Way

Saturday 25 September. We took Cookie to Widewater and walked along the beach to Lancing and back. Megan even paddled. I saw a Ringed Plover, 2-3 Sandwich Terns, a Wheatear and 60+ House Sparrows.

one of at least 50 dead sprats noticed on the beach at Widewater
Rampion information board at Lancing, not that it was visible today
paddle-boarders and a Wheatear at Widewater

Friday 24 September. Cookie and I met David Buckingham at the Beeding Hill car park and walked our usual triangle, Se along the Monarch's Way, north to Truleigh Hill and back skirting Room Bottom and the small quarry. Birds seen included 3 Buzzards, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 8 Kestrels, Peregrine, 2 Jays, 2 Ravens, 60 Swallows, 150 House Martins, 8 Chiffchaffs, 5 Blackcaps, Redstart, Whinchat, 17 Wheatears and 90 Meadow Pipits. We also saw 2 Clouded Yellows. Late afternoon I took Cookie to the Adur on the falling tide. No sign of the 3 Avocets present earlier, we saw 10 Oystercatchers, 40 Turnstones, 15 Redshank, a returning colour-ringed Black-headed Gull, 5 Grey Herons and 12 Little Egrets.

Great Spotted Woodpecker at Beeding Hill
habitat guaranteed to give it a headache?
Wheatears on Truleigh Hill

Black-headed Gull TUXR on the River Adur
it was ringed when an adult at a colony 60km NW Lodz, Poland
it had previously been seen (not always by me) on the Adur between December 2019 ad early March 2020 and again in early September 2020

Thursday 23 September. I made and early visit to Mill Hill, being joined later by Megan and Cookie. I saw Sparrowhawk, 4 Buzzards, Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 Kestrels, 2 Jays, 13 Swallows (with another 70 either this species or House Martins or a mixture, they were not close), 7 Chiffchaffs, an impressive 28 Blackcaps, a Lesser and 2 Common Whitethroats, Spotted Flycatcher, 13 Meadow Pipits and just 4 Goldfinches.

Blackcaps on Mill Hill

Spotted Flycatcher on Mill Hill

Wednesday 22 September. Megan and I took Cookie to Lancing Ring and Steepdown where I saw 2 Buzzards, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 80 Swallows, a Sand and 60 House Martins, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Whitethroat, 7 Stonechats, 2 Wheatears, 7 Meadow Pipits and 6 Corn and a Reed Bunting (the latter my first of the autumn).

Corn Buntings on Steepdown

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